Promoting Your Resources Using Timeline Software

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I’ve been experimenting with historical timeline software recently to see if we could promote our library service resources online to our users (mostly books and online subscriptions around a particular topic area) in a different way. Historical timeline software allows the user to build a dated list of related events that can be browsed by other users. Normally our resources would be promoted by refering to them and linking  back to them from our website and via our Twitter and Facebook accounts. Our aim was to include the timeline as a small project focused on the Queen’s Jubilee and her links to Surrey – giving us a narrow topic area to deal with.

I had a look at a number of pieces of software before we decided upon which one to use. Below is a list of ideal requirements I wanted from the software.

Requirements
  • Use for historical/educational purposes.
  • Specify and display events chronologically on a dated timeline.
  • Upload a file or link to a resource on the internet (preferably our library service resources) for each specific event on the timeline.
  • Browser based software/service ie no need to download software to create the timeline.
  • Free software.
  • Ability to move/scroll/browse through the timeline visually.
  • Displays information on the timeline in an interesting and fun way.
  • Easy to use.
  • Quick to load.
  • Ability to embed finished timeline into other web sites.
  • Searchable.
  • Ability to add a range of media eg text, pictures, video, RSS feeds, audio.
  • Capability to specify date range of timeline.
  • Import data/information in timeline.
  • Export data/information in timeline.
  • Ability to share it with others.
Before deciding on which one to use I tried out the following – Memolane; Rememble; Preceden; Timelines.com; TimeRime; Tiki-Toki; XTimeLine; Dipity; Timeglider. They all allowed users to put timelines together in a slightly different way and below is a brief description of them, with pros and cons.
  • Memolane (http://memolane.com/explore)
    • Pros
      • Browser based
      • Easy to use
      • Can embed into other sites
      • Searchable
      • Can add a variety of item types – Twitter, Youtube, Soundcloud, blog feeds – it depends which services you connect to
      • RSS feed based, so doesn’t require manual input
      • Automatically pulls in information
      • Can filter feeds with keywords, which gives you a bit more control about what is displayed
      • Can browse along timeline
      • Can share individual parts (memo) of timeline via Twitter, Facebook & with a link
      • Can comment on individual entries
      • Can hide and delete individual “memo’s”
      • Links back to original resource
      • Indicates what services have been used in timeline eg Youtube, Soundcloud, Twitter
      • Can embed into other webpages
      • Link your accounts from other services to it and pulls in information automatically
      • Useful as a feed agregator for different services – use it as a way to show everything you’re doing in one place
      • Can move backwards and forwards along timeline
    • Cons
      • It’s best for personal use, rather than creating an historical timeline. However, you can add other information if you use the right RSS feeds/sources
      • Can’t add single items manually
      • Can’t upload separate files eg. photos, audio – need to be feed in through services you have linked
      • Can’t change timescales – dates aren’t always clear
  • Rememble (http://www.rememble.com/)
    • Pros
      • Good for personal use, rather than historical timeline
      • Browser based
      • Can embed mini memble (membles are events) in other sites
      • Can link to Twitter & Flickr
      • Add files – audio, video, images – & notes, emails
      • Can send membles directly from your phone to update the timeline
      • Ability to share, comment and tag membles
      • Can link in Twitter & Flickr accounts
    • Cons
      • More for personal use, than historical timelines
      • Can’t pull in news stories from the web
      • Wouldn’t authorise Twitter account
      • Can’t feed in RSS
      • I had problems uploading files
      • Memble is not visible to everyone – other users need an account to view your memble.
      • Can’t create separate timelines for different subjects.
      • Based around adding files (images, audio, video), rather than linking to resources
  • Preceden (http://www.preceden.com/)
    • Only allows you to add 5 events to a timeline if you have a free/trial account (didn’t continue with trial)
  • Timelines.com (http://timelines.com/)
    • Pros
      • Topics are assigned to an event eg. Birth of Anne Boleyn could be given topics of “Anne Boleyn”, “British Monarchy” and timelines are generated from the topics assigned to an event
      • Can collaborate with others on building a timeline
      • Can search for particular keywords
      • Can link to web resources
      • Upload files, videos, images, audio
      • You don’t have to create all events yourself – you can use events others have created
    • Cons
      • Can’t build separate timelines
      • Users don’t have control over what appears in a timeline – it depends upon what other events are tagged with that topic
      • Timeline doesn’t display in a scrollable horizontal timeline – it is presented as a list of events based on the tags used
  • TimeRime (http://www.timerime.com/en/)
    • Pros
      • Very flexible
      • Useful to see chronological list of events in edit mode
      • Can indicate level of importance of event. eg Birth of Monarch may be seen as very important, but their 18th birthday may be seen as lower importance
      • Can add media from url or upload files (NB: images can only be uploaded)
    • Cons
      • Detailed content doesn’t appear on timeline, but in box below it (each marker on timeline indicate that multimedia content is included in that event)
      • Can not pull in RSS feeds
      • Doesn’t look very exciting
      • Complexity can make setting up a timeline confusing
  • Tiki-Toki (http://www.tiki-toki.com/)
    • Pros
      • Browser based
      • Can add media via url inc text; video; images (images can also be uploaded)
      • Can link to web resources
      • Can pull in RSS feeds
      • Very flexible
      • End result looks interesting and visually impressive
      • Shows where events are on timeline, with marker on the dateline
      • Can export data from your timeline as csv or json
      • Can define categories of events eg. Surrey; General and display then using different colour indicators
      • Can browse along timeline
    • Cons
      • Only one timeline can be created with a free account
      • Can’t embed timeline into website with free account
      • Can’t search for events in timeline
  • Dipity (http://www.dipity.com/)
    • Its slowness and inclusion of adverts in the timeline if no video or image appeared in an event put me off continuing with the trial
  •  TimeGlider (https://timeglider.com/app/)
    • Pros
      • Ability to add images and text
      • Can link to web resources
      • Ability to pull in RSS feeds; Flickr photos (user account feed); Wikipedia pages (single year)
      • Embed in other sites & share with others
      • Personalise colour schemes
      • Emphasise importance of different events
      • Group events by using icons/displaying legend
      • Hover over events to see more detail
      • Browseable
      • It might be useful for creating project timelines
    • Cons
      • Can be confusing with different feeds pulled into a single timeline
      • Not visually exciting
      • Can’t search for events
      • Can’t export data

After trying out each one of the above I finally went for Tiki-toki. It didn’t fulfill  all of the requirements – most notably that it couldn’t be embedded in another site, you can’t search for specific events in the timeline and you can only create one timeline using the free account. However, it was the most flexible  and the end result was visually impressive too. Each event is displayed boldly on the timeline, with a link to at least one of our library resources and an image or video. The software enabled us to link to not only our own online resources and catalogue, but also some useful external resources too, such as old news reels and news articles.

The final “Queen Elizabeth II in Surrey” Tiki-toki timeline can be found here.

 

As an aside, I liked the idea of a personal timeline as well. I’ve been trying to find a way to pull together all of my feeds from my various blogs, Flickr, Tumblr etc in a single place and also build a scrap book of what I’ve been up to. I preferred Memolane over Rememble, so I’ll be exploring that a bit more in the near future.

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